Two Ph.D. candidates in the OSU College of Engineering have been selected for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research program.

Mechanical engineering students Ari Clauser and Zac Taie are among 70 honorees nationwide, from 52 different universities.

The program’s goal is to prepare graduate students for STEM careers deemed critically important to the Office of Science mission by providing graduate thesis research opportunities at DOE laboratories in collaboration with DOE scientists.

The research opportunities advance the students’ thesis work while providing access to the expertise, resources and capabilities available at Department of Energy facilities. Students spend between three and 12 months in the program.

Clauser, a third-year student in materials science under professor Melissa Santala, is studying the characterization of interfaces between platinum nanoparticles and gamma alumina, a metastable phase of aluminum oxide used in catalysis.

Her project involves imaging the atoms at the interfaces using phase-contrast high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy at the National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

Taie, who like Clauser hopes to graduate in 2020, is studying thermal-fluid sciences under professor Chris Hagen of OSU-Cascades.

His dissertation work is designed to help enable a societal transition from fossil-sourced natural gas to renewably-generated hydrogen and methane.

“The first component of my doctoral work is composed of system-level engineering and economic analyses of electrochemical water-splitting devices used to couple the electrical and gas energy systems in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “The second component is to conduct fundamental research into the mass transport physics localized at the electrocatalyst interface that limits electrolyzer performance.”

Taie will also be working at the Lawrence Berkeley lab.

~ Steve Lundeberg